by Vanessa

The actions of your heart are who you are, never your social circumstances

After my three-month stay in Brazil and a long journey, I arrived in Viña del Mar, Chile. I remember getting outside the main station to wait for members of the organization who would mediate me to an NGO to support the rehabilitation of homeless people with drug addictions, that I would work for the next weeks as a volunteer in Valparaiso.

It was my first time in Spanish-speaking South America. I stood outside on the sidewalk in front of the station, leaned against the building with my old and broken but taped suitcase next to me and my backpack on my neck, and perceived the change of my new surroundings. The fresh climate, the Spanish language, the architecture and Chilean people who follow their daily routine in their natural way.

You were the first person I met, a homeless man who passed me. You saw me and asked me for money. I only had a few Brazilian Reis left. I didn’t have any Pesos yet at that moment, nor any food left, snacks or even something to drink I could offer to you. After we spoke in my broken Spanish, you responded with a comment that you wouldn’t believe it and you went your way. Admittedly from an outside perspective, my appearance could cause doubts. I know I look like a „gringa“. A young, white, blonde woman from Europe, with a big suitcase who has no money with her? Really? Come on…

Time passed. One hour later I was still waiting. I saw you again. Now from the other direction coming my way. You noticed me again too and were wondering why I was still standing there: „Por qué sigues aquí?“, You asked me with a smile. I responded „Tu sabes. Sigo esperando.“
You looked at me very kindly, came next to me and asked me if I was tired of standing the whole time. I responded everything is fine, but you took off your small backpack, took out a small blanket and stretched it on the floor in front of the wall I was leaning on. „Come, you can sit here“, you said in Spanish. So the next moment I saw myself sitting on your blanket with you. You asked me whether I’m thirsty or hungry and took a bottle of soda and a few snacks out of your little backpack. I kindly declined, and we sat there and talked and shared stories with each other and laughed together until at some point the organization members arrived. I thanked you, we said goodbye and I waved to you a last time when I was walking.

It was a huge, impressive and deep country arrival for me. You asked me for something, but I didn’t give you anything. You had nothing material but your tiny backpack and offered me everything of your world you carried with you with unconditional compassion.

I thank you so much for our encounter. You and your actions have shaped my entire stay and work in Chile. I took the thoughts, the emotions and perspectives that I was able to experience because of you and though you to Germany and can’t take it off anymore. It reflected and transformed my life and my thoughts and my actions about compassion, sharing, materialism, society, awareness and connection.


The actions of your heart are who you are, never your social circumstances.

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